Presidential Executive Order Implements Key ACLJ Policy, Calls for Comprehensive Plan to Defeat ISIS


Wesley Smith

February 3, 2017

5 min read

National Security



On President Trump’s seventh full day in office, he signed a Presidential Memorandum on National Security to follow up on his promise to defeat and destroy ISIS (the Islamic State) and to aggressively fight all forms of radical jihad.  The memo contains clear and purposeful directions that will coordinate all United States capabilities and resources, involving multiple federal agencies, to take the fight to ISIS and Islamic jihadists in new ways.

The President’s memorandum puts into action key elements of what we at the ACLJ have been advocating for over a year.  As far back as November of 2015, we’ve been advocating five key policies that would promote the security interests of the United States.  These policies expressed deep concern for the plight of refugees fleeing radical Islamic terror, and yet also called for a pause in the admittance of Syrian refugees to the United States until our government had implemented “an extensive and reliable vetting process” in order to safeguard the homeland.

Last April, the ACLJ laid out even more comprehensive steps to destroy jihadists with our seven-point plan to stop the violence and genocide perpetrated by ISIS.  In this plan, we explained our moral and legal duty to stop ISIS and to protect Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and Africa.  In addition to calling for safe zones for those fleeing ISIS-controlled territory, we called for an international coalition that would expand our military efforts, change the focus of our fight against global terrorism, and reevaluate our military strategy.  Most importantly we called for a comprehensive plan to defeat and destroy ISIS.

President Trump’s National Security Memorandum puts into action what we have been advocating for almost two years.  The President has no hesitancy in naming the enemy we face.  While acknowledging that the world faces numerous threats from various violent jihadist groups, he calls ISIS “the most vicious and aggressive” and said “there can be no accommodation or negotiation with it.”  Noting that ISIS has attempted to develop chemical weapons capability, continues to radicalize our own citizens, and continues to direct and inspire terrorist attacks at home and abroad, he states: “It is the policy of the United States that ISIS be defeated.” 

Calling for coordination across all government agencies, President Trump ordered that Secretary of Defense James Mattis report back to the President in 30 days with a new plan to destroy ISIS.  The President directed that the plan include the following:

  • A comprehensive strategy and plans for the defeat of ISIS.
  • Recommended changes to U.S. Rules of Engagement and any other policy restrictions regarding the use of force against ISIS.
  • The use of diplomacy, information operations and cyber strategies to delegitimize ISIS and its radical Islamist ideology.
  • Identification of new coalition partners to fight ISIS and ways to empower this coalition.
  • Mechanisms to cut off or seize ISIS’s financial support and assets.
  • A detailed plan of how to robustly fund this plan for the total defeat of ISIS.

All of this represents a brand new way of fighting the scourge of radical Islamic terror.  There is no more talk of containing or degrading ISIS.  President Trump has sent a strong message to the United States military that he wants them to do what they are trained to do:  To deter war and, if engaged in a conflict, to win and win decisively.  The rules of engagement must make sense and need not put our Soldiers at risk unnecessarily.  There must be no public statements of limits and restraints as we fight this war.  The plan to defeat ISIS must reassure our allies and strike fear and hesitation in the hearts of ISIS and other terror organizations.  Using the military, our intelligence assets, diplomacy and a fierce resolve to stop at nothing short of total defeat and disintegration of ISIS, we must unite as a nation in this fight.

The President is taking to heart our collective responsibilities as laid out in the Constitution of the United States to “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense . . . and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”  He has exhibited a clear grasp of his Article II responsibilities as the Commander-in-Chief of our great nation.

There is much work yet to be done.  The defeat of ISIS will not be quick or without costs.  The men and women of our Armed Forces will put their lives on the line.  Training and equipping our military to accomplish this mission will be expensive.  However, the enemies of freedom and decency that plague the civilized world have been put on notice.  We applaud our President for his clear and unequivocal leadership to take the first step in defeating ISIS.  We will continue to work to implement our plan to protect America and the victims of ISIS.